The Evolution Fighting Game Championships is finally back to offline competition in Las Vegas after a three-year hiatus due to the COVID pandemic. This weekend, the tournament and convention known as Evo will play host to more than 5,000 competitors over its nine headliner games.
In addition to the big titles, there will be a plethora of side tournaments and one unofficial headliner game in MultiVersus that will have $100,000 in prizes -- the largest prize pool in Evo history. The game was released too late to be considered a headliner but will boast similar numbers as some of the highest-registered games at the event.
To keep up with some of the best players and favorites for the event, Nerd Street is here to provide a quick guide to the three most registered games at Evo: Guilty Gear Strive with 2,161 entries, Street Fighter 5 with 1,320 entries, and Tekken 7 with 1,220 entries. Get excited for a celebration of fighting games!
Guilty Gear Strive
Photo credit: Stephanie Lindgren
With the most players registered at Evo, this will be the largest fighting game tournament in numbers in 2022 up to this point. Although there are fewer international representatives compared to Western players, there are still plenty of known players who can take down the crown. The two favorites to be champions in such a volatile game and environment are Abdullatif “Latif” Alhmili from EMEA and Julian “Hotashi” Harris from the United States.
Both are masters at their respective styles and characters and have already won the ARCREVO finals for their regions. They also competed in a money match on Thursday which Latif won. Instead of highlighting the two players who will have most of the spotlight and pressure, here are the other players who can also take it all down.
Matthew “TempestNYC” Tulloch
The Combo Breaker champion was largely inactive in competition after his incredible major victory, but less tape on a powerful player can prove to be an advantage. Behind his active Leo play and great neutral decision-making is one of the best players at rock paper scissors. If you’re willing to gamble with a character that can take down your entire life bar off a single knockdown, you might stand a chance against this ascended talent.
The best Zato-1 in the West also might be the best player in the world at the end of the weekend. After his Community Effort Orlando (CEO) win, the last hurdle of winning the big one was overcome, and the world was able to see the talent that every top player in the West saw. His evolution from training partner to tournament favorite was a slow grind, but his ability to truly control the screen should not be overlooked.
Cheoljin “DarkNecro” Moon
The best finisher for the ARCREVO finals in Korea and Japan that traveled overseas to Evo also is one of the most active and tech-heavy Nagoriyuki players in the world. Do not underestimate DarkNecro because of the lack of tournament results or overall tape. This is a player who simply does not move or press normally. He is a highlight reel in every match, and I’m banking that he will surprise many as a result.
Street Fighter 5
Photo credit: Marv Watson / Red Bull content pool
Unlike the other games on this page, Street Fighter 5 is as solved of a game in results as it can ever be. There’s just too many years of consistent tape, and the lack of more top international players to contest the current favorites also leads to a potentially predictable result. To save time, the two best players in the bracket are Nathan “Mister Crimson” Massol and his incredible Dhalsim and Derek “iDom” Ruffin and his Laura and Poison. So, let’s identify those who can stand on the same podium as the two world-beaters.
Hajime “Tokido” Taniguchi
What a world when the most consistent player in Street Fighter 5’s history, outside of Victor “Punk” Woodley, is not a favorite for the tournament because the current form of iDom and Mister Crimson cannot be ignored. Armed with a new character in Luke, Tokido is prepared to absolutely take down the title of best Street Fighter player again in probably the last year the game will be featured at Evo.
Saul “MenaRD” Mena
Something about big stakes and large-field tournaments bring out the best in the Dominican Republic’s MenaRD. Now, with the main cast as his weapons, he can pick-and-choose who he wants to use against his opponent, and it may just be too much for anyone to handle. He’s already armed with incredible confidence and the best gambling mentality of anyone in the field, and what’s a better place to do that than Las Vegas?
Adel “Big Bird” Anouche
In truth, Big Bird should be higher on people’s lists. He might just be the player who sneaks up on the board and takes down the entire tournament. His incredible clutch ability, fearlessness regardless of the talent standing opposite of him, and bravery in the game all point to a deep run at Evo. Perhaps it ends with him taking down the biggest tournament of his career.
Photo credit: Li Xiu Hoang / Red Bull content pool
Although most of the other headliner tournaments lack the depth of player registrants from the Eastern communities, Tekken 7 is not one of them. There will be representation from every major region that excels at the game, and it is really anyone’s guess who will step up and be the EVO champion. It could very well be the player who just has the most luck or woke up feeling better than the rest on Sunday.
Bae “Knee” Jae-Min
The greatest of all time in Tekken gets the first nod as the favorite to take down yet another major tournament in his illustrious career. He might not have the most recent and dominating results that follow his reputation, but he is still Knee. There really isn’t much else to add because the man bleeds Tekken and has the greatest neutral game of any player in the field.
Awais “Awais Honey” Iftikhar
I debated putting Awais Honey’s training partner and countryman, Arslan “Arslan Ash” Siddique in this spot, but I truly believe in his chance to take down the entire tournament. His recent play, coupled with constant improvements to his defense, make him arguably the scariest player that isn’t talked as much about despite being from the same region that took the Tekken world by storm.
Hoa “Anakin” Luu
Is this finally the time for Anakin to “defend” his home country against all the international powerhouses? He’s playing some of the best Tekken of his life, and Evo is coming at exactly the right time for him to peak. Individually, he will have difficult hurdles to overcome in Arslan Ash and Kumisaka “Gen” Genki, but I believe in Anakin’s momentum. He could very well be the chosen one.
Lead photo credit: Li Xiu Hoang / Red Bull content pool